4 years ago, something within me shifted. I looked around my apartment and felt no attachment to my things. I started Googling ways to travel the country. It was like the travel bug crawled up my pant leg and bit me. Suddenly, I was changed because of my desperate need for change.
I resigned from my decent job running a Doorstep Delivery office in Florida. I bowed out, admitting that I wasn’t a good fit for the position. If I’m dreaming of getting out of Florida by any means possible, it wouldn’t be healthy for me to stay. I couldn’t shake that feeling, so I respectfully resigned to the dismay of the owner of the business. We worked out my last work day some weeks later.
Two weeks later, I took a Greyhound bus to North Carolina to check out a farm I’d found up there. They lived and worked communally running a beautiful organic farm nestled in the suburbs of Asheville. They had goats, chickens, a cow, and all the vegetables you could dream of. They worked farmer’s markets and sold Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to locals who wanted fresh produce regularly.
I plunged into their lifestyle. I worked in their bakery, ate dinner at their table, and played with their children. I had an amazing time. One woman took me under her wing and taught me everything she could while we weeded plants, transplanted lettuce, milked goats, and took walks together. I worked with them for several years.
I was convinced that my life needed this home grown, simplistic element of hard farm work. For a time, I thought that staying there would satisfy this budding desire. I realized that so much of what I wanted to do was incompatible with their lifestyle. While I pondered my next move, my future husband arrived at the farm to work and stay and play.
After six months on the farm together, we decided to strike out on our own. We wanted the unorthodox farm experience to continue, so we found a farm in Tennessee that needed seasonal help. We stayed in our motorhome backed up in one of the farmer’s pastures. We pounded poles and strung trellises, picked bushels of corn, peaches, and green beans, ripped up old irrigation tape, fed the hogs, and took care of the weekly landscaping.
It was incredibly hard work. The pay was low as you can go but we were okay. We lived simply and tried to enjoy the adventure. It was only for a season. We learned so much.
We moved from there to a community of preppers, which is its own saga! Each couple there was preparing for their own unique “collapse” scenario. There we learned how to efficiently haul water and ration use, how to install rainwater catchments, how to build out buildings, and my soon to be husband got to flex his heavy equipment experience by creating roads and level building pads with a backhoe. We canned peaches, hatched quail, built barns, tended rabbits, and learned survival tricks of the trade by our neighbors.
Even then, we knew it was only for a season. We decided we wanted to get married, and we really wanted that special moment to be shared with the people on the farm in Asheville, where we met. We returned and they threw us a sweet ceremony (one woman got to work sewing me a beautiful dress as soon as she caught wind we were coming) that we will never forget.
In May 2018, we had our first and only child, the light of my world. Suddenly, my priorities shifted. We were caretaking on a privately owned residence where the owners, who were away 99% of the time, collected mini donkeys, horses, and dogs that needed rescuing. My husband was dealing with the animals and groundskeeping while I maintained and regularly cared for their beautiful home. We wanted a farm of our own, but soon caretaking took its toll.
We had originally agreed to work for no wages, but only to stay in their home with no bills. This was a great advantage for us considering the work, at first, was sporadic. Over time, as my husband showcased his skills, so much more was asked of him. He always wanted to oblige as a servant at heart, in gratitude for the beautiful accommodations. With his full time work around the farm, I had no time to pursue paying work. I enrolled in school to utilize my GI Bill from my Army service. Still, I took out student loans to help us get by. It equated to going into debt for minimum wage pay. It scared me to do it but I had to act on something.
Trying to stop working for no wage is difficult when your work secures your housing. We felt like we were moving backwards, away from our future farm and going into debt to stay on someone else’s.
We’ve since moved to Colorado, and soon after, my disabled mother admitted to struggling to live independently in her new apartment in Utah. I traveled with my son to see her, and after a couple weeks, my car blew a head gasket under the oppression of the desert heat.
I’m here, still, trying to rub two dollars and make them six. I have one faithful customers scheduling house cleanings for $20 an hour. Just today I got my flyers posted in business windows all down Main street. I tried Facebook Ads but I’m a newbie, so I’m going to focus more on networking in town and using the flyers and cards I had printed by Canva.
Shameless plug for Canva, though they’ll never see this. They have great pricing for low count prints, and their design tool at canva.com is the bee’s knees. I design ads, flyers, and Facebook posts there and I have used it for graphics in film editing also.
I’ve entered a season of life where my time is in high demand, but the money only trickles in. My son is 15 months old and extremely active. If I say “come here” he runs the other way. If I say “no climbing” he climbs faster. He is the most adorable menace and my patience has grown so strong for his sake. I love spending my days with him, but we are missing his father and trying to get home to him.
So until then, I’ll be writing!